An Amazing Jump Shot Story

This video is an interview with the man who invented the “Jump Shot”.  He is humble, and speaks worlds of wisdom.

Be refreshed!!!

 

Sound Advice from C.S. Lewis for the New Year

Here is some advice on Writing and the use of the English language that C.S. Lewis gave a child in America on June 26, 1956.  I wish I had been given this advice when I was a Bairn.  It is good advice for me still today…and may we all take it to heart..

What really matters is:

Image1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean, and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long vague one.  Don’t “implement” promises, but “keep” them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do.  If you mean “more people died,” don’t say “mortality rose.”

4. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing.  I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified.  Don’t say it was “delightful,” make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description.  You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only saying to your readers “please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject.  Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

C. S. Lewis, quoted in John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 235.

Which of these pieces of advice do you struggle with the most?

I must admit that I tend to struggle with points 1 & 4.  From my experience of being “misunderstood” I think that I may not be in the habit of making sure that my sentences are clear and can only mean what I want them to say. I also tend be terrible at using adjectives that tell people how I feel rather than describing the situation so that people are terrified.  It is an infinitely horrifying thing!

 

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – A Great Example to me…

There are some preachers from more recent church history that have had a great impact on my life. One of them, whom I will quote often, is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, once a leading British physician turned preacher during the late 1920′s. He was born in Cardiff, Wales, and his family attended a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church (Now, if you can figure out how those words all go together without some conflict, please help me out).

His first church was in Aberavon, Wales, where he took a dying and very pragmatic church, reintroduced the systematic preaching of the Word, bringing revival to the church and then the town. After ten years he accepted the call to co-pastor with G. Campbell Morgan, an American pastor, at Westminster Chapel in London.

Ian Murray’s two volume biography of the life of Loyd-Jones is a rare treasure and excellent reading. I find that he faced many of the same issues that I face as a pastor in 2008. Certainly the garments of the issues are a little different, but in essence they are the same. Lloyd-Jones was a consistent reader and was instrumental in the beginning of printing quality books for Christian growth establishing the Banner of Truth and was instrumental in the birthing of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship.

As you can see, he was a very serious man and took his Bible study and preaching very seriously.

I am very thankful for the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust (www.mlj.org.uk) for providing this video and for the numerous recording available today.

I praise the Lord for counselors like Lloyd-Jones who keep my nose in the Word of God rather than the latest fad that is blowing through Christian culture.

It is uncanny, but when I think about these men working together for the Gospel I can’t help but think about some of my other friends that I grew up with…

Here is a newer interview Joan Blackwell that shows how crisp, clear, bold and refreshing Dr. Lloyd-Jones was.  He is an example to us all – especially me.

Feed My Goats?

ImageIn the milieu of ideology on church growth and strategy it is refreshing to read wise counsel from faithful pastors of past generations who remind us that, although we may be experiencing a dynamic change in the technological and informational realms, the Gospel and the preaching of that Gospel never changes at its core.  Consider the words of William Still who speaks to the issues of the Pastor as Evangelist and Shepherd:

Too many [pastors] today pin their faith for fruitful evangelism on harping for ever on a few Gospel facts isolated from the broad and full context of the whole Bible.

Still’s point is that a truly evangelistic ministry is one in which the whole counsel of God’s Word is made to bear.  Still appeals to James Philip’s words…

The church’s evangelism ought to be one in which all the counsel of God is made known to men.  We need a recovery of belief in the converting and sanctifying power of the living Word of God in the teaching of the pulpit and its ability to transform the lives of men and produce in them the lineaments and fruits of mature Christian character.

Still further contends that when the pastor loses sight of the power of the Word of God preached and begins to focus on or emphasize other things it is time for him to reconsider his calling.  ImageIt is the pastors responsibility to feed the flock.

If you think that you are called to keep a largely worldly organization, miscalled a church, going, with infinitesimal doses of innocuous sub-Christian drugs or stimulants, then the only help I can give you is to advise you to give up the hope of the ministry and go and be a street scavenger; a far healthier and more godly job, keeping the streets tidy, than cluttering the church with a lot of worldly claptrap in the delusion that you are doing a job for God.  The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if the sheep do not want to be fed.  He is certainly not to become an entertainer of goats.  Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland.  You will certainly not turn goats int sheep by pandering to their goatishness.

Those are strong words, but words that need to be considered for anyone who is called to serve the church of God as Pastor.

Do we really believe that the Word of God, by His Spirit, changes, as well as maddens men?  If we do, to be evangelists and pastor, feeders of sheep, we must be men of the Word of God.

These are important questions for both Pastors and Sheep to consider:

  • Pastors – Are we really feeding the sheep by proclaiming the whole counsel of God?
  • Sheep – Do you really want to be fed the whole counsel of God, plainly and clearly, and with passion and conviction?

Together for Gondor

I got a laugh out of this creative picture.  Can you spot the speakers?

Thanks Thabiti for posting this on your blog…even if you did get it from Al’s blog…

John Piper to Speak at Gateway!

Caught your attention, didn’t I.  This  past month I attended the 2012 Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY.  While there I was introduced to Carl Trueman, the Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.  Now, when I say “introduced” I don’t mean personally, but I did have the privilege of sitting in his workshop and listening to his dialogue during one of the panel sessions on the subject of Celebrity Pastors.

Now, the fact that he is a Britt like me was intriguing as I think that I have been helped in my pastoral, theological and philosophical walk through godly men from across the pond who have this uncanny ability to look at American Evangelicalism from the outside and make exposing constructive criticisms.  Not only is Carl Trueman effective at this, his many thoughts are very honest and revealing, not to mention refreshing and provocative.

Here is an article he wrote the other day about Multi-Site ministries from Reformation 21.  Read it with an open mind fashioned by God’s truth and then enjoy the spoof video that I created…

Any classic rock fan knows that there is nothing quite like hearing a live band.   A few years ago, I went to hear The Who (or at least Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, the extant members).  I remember listening on the way home to a live recording of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ just after hearing the real thing in the stadium.  Even without Moon and Entwistle, the live performance was so much more powerful than the recording which, in the immediate aftermath of the concert, sounded like an anemic cover by a wannabe boy band.  The same thing applied next day to my watching of the video of the last time the original line-up ever played together, performing that very song.  It was simply not a patch on actually being there, despite the absence of Keith and John.

Presence is important.   In a world where it is easy to simulate presence, even visible presence as by television, webcam or skype, it remains the case that actually being in the immediate physical proximity of somebody is important.   We all intuitively know this: given the choice of talking to a loved one on the phone or over a camera link up or in the same room, who would not want actually to be with them?

This raises an important question about the notion of multi-site ministry, where the preacher is piped in to various locations by satellite link-up or fibre optic cable.  Of course, this practice is susceptible to numerous lines of devastating critique.   One might suggest that it moves the church towards a model where the accent in preaching is increasingly on the information communicated, nothing more; one might also raise questions about the way it detaches pastoral care of congregations and individuals from the ministry of public proclamation.  For church officers it should surely be a nerve-wracking notion that pastors are to be held accountable for those entrusted to their care; and how can they give a credible account of such care if they do not know the faces, let alone the names, of those thus entrusted to them?  Finally, one might point to the extreme example now being set by groups such as Mars Hill: what does ‘contextualisation’ mean when one man based in Seattle can pipe his message to congregations across the country, perhaps eventually across the world, regardless of any local context into which his messages might be broadcast?  Even those of us who think the whole preoccupation with contextualisation of recent decades has tended to be rather overblown find such an action to be contrary to good sense.

All of these are important lines of critique; but there is one further one which is, I believe, lethal to multisite because it involves a poker tell on the part of its practitioners which reveals a fatal inconsistency.

A couple of months ago a pastor sent me an email written by one of his congregants who had been on vacation and had visited a campus of one of the better known multi-site evangelical ministries.   His description of what he had witnessed was balanced and matter of fact, even appreciative at points; but one observation he made really piqued my interest: he commented that, although the preacher was piped in by videolink, the music band were actually present.

That observation strikes me as being of crucial importance not only to critics of multi-site like myself; but also something with which multi-site advocates must themselves wrestle.  It seems to me (at least on the basis of the anecdotal research which I have been able to do) that nobody in the multi-site world pipes in the music by videolink in the way that is simply assumed as legitimate when it comes to the preacher.  Yet in so doing, it seems to me that such ministries are conceding the importance of presence – of real, physical presence – to the gathering of the church.  They are also begging the question: why have a real band when the most important thing, the preaching, can be beamed in?   Or is it that the preaching is no longer the most important thing?

Some might well respond that it is easier to find good musicians than good preachers and this accounts for the apparent anomaly.  That has a specious plausibility but rests on rather dubious premises.  First, it reinforces the developing mythology that preaching the gospel is very difficult and that there are only a couple of dozen people in the entire United States who are any good at it.   To quote Gershwin, it ain’t necessarily so.   If it were, Paul would surely have told us.  In fact, he pours scorn on the Corinthian church’s fascination with orators; what he requires of ministers is that they be competent to teach.  That necessarily means they must be able to express themselves clearly and with conviction; but it does not mean they need the rhetorical skills of Winston Churchill or the brilliant classroom presence of Richard Feynman.

Second, it assumes the absolute negotiability of immediate physical presence.  Apparently, it is better to have the big man piped in from the outside than have somebody less skilled doing it on site.  Yet much is lost when that is done.  Anyone who has ever taught or preached in the immediate presence of a live audience or congregation knows that there is a dialogical relationship between speaker and listeners.  It may well take place at an almost subconscious level; but one instinctively reads signs from those listening and modifies one’s voice and even one’s content in the light of such.   This becomes clear to any teacher who has also taught by videolink: the connection to those whose presence is mediated via a video screen is not susceptible to the same subtlety or implicit dialogue.  In short, the relationship is fundamentally different: blunted, distant and relatively impersonal.

One might also add that mediated presence is inevitably presence that is less confrontational.  Again, I remember some years ago seeing Jessica Lange playing the lead in a West End version of A Streetcar Named Desire.  I had read the play; I had seen the Elia Kazan movie numerous times; but nothing prepared me for the raw psycholgical impact of seeing the emotional implosion of Blanche Dubois on the stage just in front of me.  Lange’s physical presence before me made all the difference.  The movie and the play were not two forms of the same piece of art; in terms of reception, they were two utterly different works of art.   Watching a video of a preacher, even in a crowded auditorium, is similar: immediate presence is confrontational; mediated presence is always easier to domesticate.  Not two forms of the same thing but two different things.

The preacher who pipes himself in to numerous sites needs to ask himself if, by doing so, he loses the key elements of subtle dialogue and direct confrontation with a physically present congregation which are so important; the congregation satisfied with a video pastor needs to ask if its satisfaction is in part related to the absence of the man, an absence which inevitably tames that confrontational element which is such an important part of what Luther called ‘the word which comes from outside.’

There are those pastors who will say ‘Well, if we plant a church but I am not the regular preacher, people have told me that they will not come.’  That may well be true but it begs a follow-up question: does that not indicate a serious problem in the heart of the people?  That pastor needs to call those people to repentance: it is not the man, it is the message which is meant to feed their souls.  Sure, the message can be preached boringly, badly and even heretically by some; but there are more than a half dozen men in the USA who are competent to teach.  Good preaching may be at a premium; but that still does not make it either rocket science or infused Gnostic knowledge given only to a few of the chosen.

And they should also ask themselves why they always have live music.  ‘It’s easier to hire good musicians’ is a dodge, not a sufficient answer.  In having live music, you concede the vital importance of presence.  You should now apply that to the preaching as you do to the congregation’s response to the same.

Pirate Wisdom

What is the driving vehicle for ministry in many churches?  This little video will shed some light.

Our Ministry Leaders are presently working through an excellent book called, The Trellis and the Vine, which is a clarion call for churches to take a fresh look at how they are doing ministry.  It emphasizes the pervasive problem of “Program Oriented” ministry that can so easily be the focus rather than Jesus Christ.

Some very thought provoking stuff…Enjoy!

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